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68,481 coastal sewage spills last year ‘took 440,000 hours’

More than 440,000 hours of sewage was released along England’s coastline in 2023, with thousands of spills occurring close to bathing spots, the analysis shows. Campaign group Friends of the Earth analyzed Environment Agency data on sewage outfalls to calculate the number and duration of discharges directly into the sea and estuaries and near swimming waters.

It found that there were 68,481 incidents of sewage released into England’s seas last year, totaling 440,446 hours. More than a quarter of those, about 117,584 hours over 21,213 spills, were within 1.9 miles (3 km) of a bathing spot, the assessment found.




The review was released as comedian Nish Kumar presents a new Friends of the Earth film with a fake news about the Sh*t Beach tourist attraction opening on a seaside town’s sewage-filled beach.

Friends of the Earth identified all sewage discharges in coastal or estuarine waters, or within 500 meters of the sea, to analyze the number and duration of discharges into water. The campaign group also used the location of coastal bathing waters to summarize sewage discharges near beaches and identified all swimming spots that had no-swim warnings due to pollution or poor water quality in 2023 , to see where they were most affected. .

It identified Cowes beach on the Isle of Wight as the most affected, with almost 5,000 hours of sewage released near the bathing site in 2023, followed by Meadfoot in Torbay and Plymouth Hoe West. The comedian said: “Record amounts of shit and pollution clogging up our rivers and seas is no joke.

“If we don’t act now, we’ll all be swapping our swimmers for hazmat suits and packing an E. coli test kit before we hit the great British coastline this summer. “We cannot let the water companies laugh as their shareholders pocket huge payouts while our bills go up.

“We need to show that we are giving too much *** to our beaches and rivers to allow them to become a national health hazard.”

Kierra Box, nature campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said the film was a hoax but “could be a taste of what’s to come if the government doesn’t force the water companies to clean up their act”.